I am constantly thinking about new ways to run effective webinars. How to start a webinar the right way to establish credibility. How to keep the attention of the audience during the middle of the presentation and finally how to pull off a fluent sales pitch that draws in the attendees to take the next step.
Yes, the subject of webinars fills many of my idle moments. But a topic I don’t give time to anymore is which webinar platform I should be using. In the past, I have dedicated much time to finding the answer. I have used almost all the platforms on the market and been disappointed in most.
Hosting webinars is a very complex technical feat. Any company trying to sell a webinar solution should be fully committed to the platform. What makes webinars complex is:
- They are real time. So much can go wrong.
- They connect multiple devices on multiple platforms to a single computer to watch the presentation. Again, there is so much here that can go wrong.
- They include video and audio which always causes challenges online
- The service is delivered over the internet where people have difference connection speeds and quality of service
Trying to juggle all these moving parts at once is difficult and few webinar service providers get it all right.
After testing many webinar platforms, I have come to a conclusion that GoToWebinar is the best solution for the average business. Yes it is more expensive than most of the other platforms on the market, and yes it is a recurring fee and yes it may not have all the online marketing ninja tools of other, but for 80% of the businesses I deal with it is more than adequate.
In this post, I will explain why I think GoToWebinar is the best platform to use for your webinars.
When you run your first series of webinars there are so many balls you have to juggle. Other than actually presenting the webinar you need to promote the webinar, write the content, practice your sales pitch, write a follow-up email campaign and then bring it all together on the day like the conductor of a symphony.
The last thing you need is for the webinar platform to have a glitch just before the presentation starts or during the presentation. All your hard work could be wasted.
In my experience GoToWebinar is one of the most reliable platforms available. It is one of many products of the company Citrix, one of the most respected corporations in the technology space for the last 25 years. They have the history, infrastructure and gurus to support GoToWebinar and make it better every year.
If you want to focus on your presentation and not worry about technology when running webinars, then GoToWebinar is the solution you want to choose.
Easy of Use
GoToWebinar is the easiest platform to use. Whether it is setting up a webinar, integrating that webinar with your email marketing system or hosting a webinar, the process is as simple as it can be.
I have used platforms made by smaller more niche companies and one of the biggest drawbacks is how complex they are to use. Some companies don’t provide the hosting platform like GoToWebinar so you have to integrate the solution with Google Hangouts to provide the actual webinar. This adds much complexity to the setup process and makes the solution not as reliable.
Others are just not intuitive. The designers have had little understanding of the workflow a user requires to make the process simple. So you and your users are left to try to navigate difficult software during the live webinar which makes the whole experience frustrating.
What you need is an easy to use solution and GoToWebinar is the best I have found.
One of the most important skills in webinars is the ability to keep the attention of an attendee for the duration of the webinar. Because you can’t see them you don’t have the opportunity to read their body language. Because they know you can’t see them they don’t have a problem doing something else like answering their emails when you are talking.
I love the interactive tools GoToWebinar provides and here is a description of the main tools.
Like most Platforms GoToWebinar allows attendees to ask questions. These questions are displayed in a question window which can be detached and moved onto another screen so the questions are easy to read and answer.
I use questions the most out of all the features. I verbally ask a question to the whole audience and then I read out the answers including the first name of the person. I find doing this allows me to make the audience part of the presentation.
Polls are predefined questions you can setup in GoToWebinar before the webinar starts. You enter the question and then you enter the answers that the attendees can choose from.
Polls are another way to ask questions except this time when they fill their answer, GoToWebinar tallies the responses and presents the percentage of people who selected each answer. Polls are a good way to survey the audience quickly and get some useful stats that everyone on the webinar can see.
The chat window is available for all attendees to ask you private questions during the webinar. You can answer direct just the person asking or to the whole audience if the answer is relevant.
Again this functionality is very powerful during a webinar and is a great way to send links to the audience they can click on.
Another way to engage with the audience is to have them raise their hand to answer a question. This is a very quick way to poll the audience with a spur of the moment question.
Integration with Marketing Software
GoToWebinar is very popular and respected online. Its popularity has lead many other software vendors to integrate their marketing solutions with GoToWebinar. So, there are many email marketing, marketing automation and landing page builders which now integrate with GoToWebinar.
These integrations save business lots of time. For example, if a user signs up to an email list using an email marketing service like MailChimp or Infusionsoft the user can be automatically registered for a webinar with GoToWebinar.
Another service called Fuzed will fire off a marketing automation sequence in Active Campaign for all people who attend a webinar. It will then fire off a different sequence for all who registered for the webinar but didn’t attend.
These integrations save a lot of time and allow marketers to take their marketing to the next level.
Alternatives to GoToWebinar
GoToWebinar is not the only software on the market that is good. There are many. I find that it is the best software for most businesses to use so I highly recommend it and use it for all my webinars.
If you want to try a platform with some real ninja marketing features then I would recommend Webinar Jam. Many online marketers use this service. If it works as good as they say it could be a great option. I have not used it yet, but I will in the future because I value some of the extra marketing features.
What I don’t like about Webinar Jam is:
- It uses Google Hangouts to host the webinar. This adds complexity when running a webinar and also adds a noticeable delay in the webinar stream. So attendees only hear what you say a few seconds after you say it. This makes it hard when asking live questions. It’s not a deal breaker but it isn’t ideal and one of the reasons I haven’t tried it yet. I just love the real-time approach of GoToWebinar.
- It is built by online marketers. The service is not built by a well-respected company like Citrix. It is built by two online marketers who are making very good money from the product. There is no way they have the money to invest in the platform like GoToWebinar, so something has to give. I do not know what that is yet, but when I try it I will let you know.
I recommend that 80% of businesses just go with GoToWebinar. It is reliable, easy to use and has some great tools to make your webinar more interactive. These features are most important to running your first series of webinars.
When you get more experienced and you want to really take your webinars to the next level then you could try another solution, but most businesses will never need these tools to be successful at webinars.
Let me know in the comments what platforms you have used and if you agree that GoToWebinar is the go-to service for business.